Staff Counsellor at UN High Commissioner for Refugees

Organizational Setting and Work Relationships

UNHCR runs its operations in 136 countries and 520 locations, carried on by over 16,500 staff members and members of the affiliate workforce. Given the nature of work, the psychological hazards range from workplace stress, exposure to traumatic situations and vicarious exposure to traumatic experiences of people of concern. All these can reflect at the individual, interpersonal and team levels and can affect the staff well-being as well as the efficiency of the operation.
The Staff Health and Wellbeing Service (SH&WS) and more specifically its Psychosocial Wellbeing Section (PWS), are entrusted with addressing these challenges. The Psychosocial Wellbeing team comprises the Staff Counsellors based in Geneva, in the Regional Bureaux and in some multi-country offices and country operations. The team works together in designing staff wellbeing plans and interventions under the leadership of the Chief, PWS.
The Staff Counsellor is expected to collaborate closely with the staff health professionals, management team in the operation, human resources function as well as the field safety function with fully respect of professional boundaries and confidentiality of individual cases. The Staff Counsellor works closely with the existing Peer Advisors in the operations of coverage and collaborates with the Office of the Ombudsman and the Ethics Office.
The Staff Counsellor is a member of the UN Staff/Stress Counsellor Group and the incumbent adheres to its professional and ethical standards and other technical issuances.

All UNHCR staff members are accountable to perform their duties as reflected in their job description. They do so within their delegated authorities, in line with the regulatory framework of UNHCR which includes the UN Charter, UN Staff Regulations and Rules, UNHCR Policies and Administrative Instructions as well as relevant accountability frameworks. In addition, staff members are required to discharge their responsibilities in a manner consistent with the core, functional, cross-functional and managerial competencies and UNHCR¿s core values of professionalism, integrity and respect for diversity.


  • Undertake psychological risk assessment for the operations of coverage and design the appropriate response measures in close collaboration with the operations and under the supervision from the Chief, Psychosocial Wellbeing Section. Such measures should include but are not limited to individual or group counselling, trauma interventions, workshops/training, raising awareness and sensitization meetings, team building or other professional forms of support.
  • Ensure access for staff and family members to individual counselling either internally (with Staff Counsellors in UNHCR) or externally (by providing referrals and information about the available resources and insurance coverage) for work related issues (stress, trauma, interpersonal conflicts, harassment, and job insecurity) and personal issues (family, marital, children or finance related problems).
  • Provide timely response to critical incidents in the operations under the coverage in accordance with the UNHCR SOP on Support to staff affected by critical incidents. Organizing the psychological first aid (personally, through the Peer Advisors Network in the region or other UN Staff Counsellors available in the region), assessments, referrals and necessary follow-up is undertaken and coordinated with the Psychosocial Wellbeing Section, Snr. Regional Medical Officer and relevant HR functions in the operation. Provide the guidance to the operational managers in relation to the post incident staff support as required.
  • Undertake regular travels to the operations under coverage as per PWS strategic priorities and demands from the Regions.
  • Implement the global UNHCR psychosocial wellbeing projects (psychological preparation for hardship assignment, end of assignment debriefing following hardship assignment, framework of support to high risk environments) and take an active part in developing the new initiatives.
  • Maintain regular contact with the counselling resources in the countries under the coverage including the members of the UN Staff/Stress Counsellors Group (UNSSCG) and other local/regional mental health professionals/ resources outside the UN system, e.g. NGOs, private mental health practitioners.
  • Take part in the relevant interagency working groups aimed at advancement of psychosocial support to staff in the UN.
  • Collaborate closely with the Office of the Ombudsman and the Ethics Office in relation to management, training and support to the UNHCR Peer Advisors Network.
  • Maintain records of individual cases in the confidential electronic case management system in accordance with the UN Confidentiality Guidelines for Staff/Stress Counsellors. Provide monthly statistics to the PWS, HQ. Ensure timely reporting on field missions, general staff wellbeing assessments and related recommendations to the Representative and the Heads of Offices and the Chief PWS. Provide input in global reports by the PWS as required
  • Provide expert advice and guidance to the Representatives of the operations covered by the function and the Chief of the Psychosocial Wellbeing Section/ Staff Health and Wellbeing Service (SH&WS) at the HQ.
  • Ensure the adherence to the professional standards of the UNSSCG (continuous education, registration and supervision) as well as the Code of Ethics for UN Staff Counsellors.
  • Perform other related duties as required.

Minimum Qualifications
Education & Professional Work Experience
Years of Experience / Degree Level
For P3/NOC – 6 years relevant experience with Undergraduate degree; or 5 years relevant experience with Graduate degree; or 4 years relevant experience with Doctorate degree

Field(s) of Education
Psychology; Clinical Psychology; Psychiatry; Psychotherapy
Social Work; Counselling; or other relevant field.
(Field(s) of Education marked with an asterisk* are essential)

Certificates and/or Licenses
Registered mental health professional
(Certificates and Licenses marked with an asterisk* are essential)

Relevant Job Experience
Demonstrated clinical experience, including case management and counselling skills for a minimum of 5 years. Working experience on prevention and response to sexual harassment in the workplace.

Understanding of the humanitarian work environment.

How to apply

Interested candidates are requested to apply on the UNHCR career page at – by clicking on the Vacancies tab and entering job ID 27257.

The UNHCR workforce consists of many diverse nationalities, cultures, languages and opinions. UNHCR seeks to sustain and strengthen this diversity to ensure equal opportunities as well as an inclusive working environment for its entire workforce. Applications are encouraged from all qualified candidates without distinction on grounds of race, colour, sex, national origin, age, religion, disability, sexual orientation and gender identity.

Please note that UNHCR does not charge a fee at any stage of its recruitment process (application, interview, meeting, travelling, processing, training or any other fees).

Closing Date

Please note that the closing date is Monday 14 June 2021 (mid-night Geneva time).

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